Wests Tigers will look to bounce back from a last start defeat when they take on the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs this Sunday afternoon at ANZ Stadium.
Beaten by a classy Penrith Panthers side last weekend, Ivan Cleary's side will head in to Sunday's game off the back of a long turnaround — something which they've not been afforded too often this year — and will welcome back a number of key players as they seek to turn their tough run of form around.
Having gone down in four of their last five games, Wests Tigers will welcome back Tongan internationals Tuimoala Lolohea and Mahe Fonua in to the backline for Sunday's game, while Josh Reynolds also makes his return from a shoulder injury. The former Bulldog will come off the interchange bench for just his second game of the year, and will no doubt add plenty of much-needed spark and energy to the side.
Reynolds' return also indirectly causes a reshuffle in the forwards with Elijah Taylor moving to lock, Michael Chee Kam to the second row and Jacob Liddle to hooker — joining standout forwards Russell Packer, Ben Matulino and this week's captain Chris Lawrence in an underrated forward pack.
Penrith's line speed and energy in defence laid the platform for the Panthers' gritty win last weekend, so the onus will no doubt be on those forwards to find another gear this Sunday when they take on the Bulldogs.
While the recent form line for Wests Tigers has dipped a little compared to the start of the season, the same can also be said of their opponents this week, who come in to the game this week with just three wins all year and one win in their last five. Having said that, however, the Bulldogs pushed the Roosters, Broncos and Sharks all to wire over the past month and were perhaps unlucky not to walk away with more in all of those contests — meaning that Sunday's game certainly won't be an easy one for Wests Tigers.
Canterbury will be without veteran centre Josh Morris this week after he picked up a knee injury but they will welcome back up-and-coming forward Raymond Faitala-Mariner, who missed last week's loss to the Sharks. His return sees Rhyse Martin push back to lock, while Clay Priest drops back to the bench.
When these two sides met last year, it was Wests Tigers who came up trumps with Luke Brooks laying on a try for Kevin Naiqama in the final minutes of the game, and we might be in for another close contest given the way in which both teams have battled this season. Interestingly, Wests Tigers have a perfect record at home this year at ANZ Stadium and have won their last three home games on a Sunday.
Date — Sunday, May 27, 2018
Time — 4:10pm AEST (Gates open 2:45pm)
Venue — ANZ Stadium, Sydney Olympic Park
TV, RADIO AND LIVE STREAM INFORMATION
TV — Fox League (Ch.502) and Channel 9
Radio — FM 104.9 Triple M Sydney, AM 702 ABC Grandstand, AM 2GB 873
Live Stream —Foxtel Go, 9Now, NRL Digital Pass, Watch NRL Streaming (exc. Australia)
LATEST CROWNBET ODDS
Head to Head — Wests Tigers ($1.62), Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs ($2.30)
Line — Wests Tigers -3.5 ($1.90), Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs +3.5 ($1.90)
Odds correct as of 12:00pm, Thursday, May 24 — 18+ only and gamble responsibly
Wests Tigers — 1. Tuimoala Lolohea 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Esan Marsters 4. Mahe Fonua 5. Corey Thompson 6. Benji Marshall 7. Luke Brooks 8. Russell Packer 9. Jacob Liddle 10. Ben Matulino 11. Chris Lawrence (capt.) 12. Michael Chee Kam 13. Elijah Taylor (Interchange: 14. Alex Twal 15. Josh Reynolds 16. Matt Eisenhuth 18. Josh Aloiai) — Coach: Ivan Cleary
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs — 1. Moses Mybe 2. Brett Morris 3. John Olive 4. Will Hopoate 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Matt Frawley 7. Kieran Foran 8. Aaron Woods 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 14. Adam Elliott 11. Josh Jackson (capt.) 12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 13. Rhyse Martin (Interchange: 10. David Klemmer 15. Clay Priest 16. Renouf To'omaga 17. Kerrod Holland) — Coach: Dean Pay
For Wests Tigers, Josh Aloiai comes on to the bench in place of Sauaso Sue, with Josh Reynolds to make his return from injury on the interchange bench. For the Bulldogs, Adam Elliott starts in the front row in place of State of Origin hopeful David Klemmer, who drops back to the interchange bench.
2018 SEASON SO FAR
|8th (12 points)
|14th (6 points)
|174 points (14th)
|173 points (15th)
|167 points (3rd)
|224 points (9th)
|Won 4, Lost 2
|Won 2, Lost 2
|Won 2, Lost 3
|Won 1, Lost 6
|Lost last 1 game
|Lost last 1 game
KEY MATCHUP — Jacob Liddle vs. Jeremy Marshall-King
Plenty of attention will no doubt fall on Josh Reynolds and Aaron Woods as they take on their former clubs this Sunday, but it's the battle of the little men in amongst the big men that could be most pivotal. Young gun Jacob Liddle earns the starting spot this week after coming off the bench last week, and ever since his memorable debut against the Bulldogs back in 2015, his talent and ability was evident. Explosive from dummy half and able to take full advantage of tired forwards, Liddle has seemingly earned the starting hooking role now and will certainly look to consolidate that over the back half of the year — an opportunity that his direct opponent this week knows well. After starting in the halves, Jeremy Marshall-King has moved to hooker over the past three weeks in a move Coach Dean Pay must be happy with, given his inclusion sees Michael Lichaa out of the squad in the reserves. Both strong runners and solid defenders, these two young gun hookers might only get one or two big opportunities to run in the match, but when they do, they will definitely make it count and help break the game open for their respective sides.
Match Referees — Henry Perenara and Ashley Klein
Touch Judges — Kasey Badger and Chris Butler
Review Officials — Ben Galea and Jarred Maxwell